Employee burnout is common in modern workplaces due to today’s fast-paced and demanding workstyles. In fact, The World Health Organization describes burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
Mitigating burnout at your workplace requires deliberate changes to your culture. Read on to learn more.
Why is burnout at work bad?
When employees experience burnout, all their energy goes into surviving the day rather than getting their work done or developing their skills. As a result, burnout negatively impacts work productivity and quality. Even worse, long-term burnout can lead to severe health conditions such as depression, anxiety, coronary artery disease and hypertension.
Reducing burnout across an organization starts by recognizing the symptoms of burnout so you can help those in need.
What are the symptoms of burnout at work?
To help avoid widespread burnout, managers must get to know their team members and be observant enough to spot changes in their behavior and work output.
Here are a few signs to look out for when spotting burnout:
- Distant and unfocused employees
- Reduced productivity
- Continuous absences from work
- A lack of drive or desire to learn and grow
- A lack of confidence in performance
When an employee is experiencing burnout, getting to the root cause is vital, so you can take action and prevent other team members from being affected.
7 ways to avoid employee burnout in your team
Employee burnout can be addressed reactively (after you see the symptoms of burnout) and proactively (before burnout occurs). Here are seven ways you can proactively encourage healthy working practices among your employees to avoid burnout in your organization:
1. Promote open communication.
Many employees see burnout as a sign of weakness or incompetence and worry that telling someone about their struggles will negatively affect their job and responsibilities. Help employees speak up by creating a culture where employees are encouraged to seek help if they’re experiencing stress or burnout.
2. Set precise working hours.
Remote and hybrid work blurred the line between work and home life. As a result, employees sometimes struggle to switch off (mentally and physically) at the end of their working days. You can help prevent burnout by defining your work hours and encouraging team members to stick to those hours.
3. Avoid after-hours communications.
Even when employees have the best intentions to log off after their work day is done, an incoming email or Slack message can change their plans. Let employees know it’s okay to turn off their notifications after hours. Likewise, teach your employees how to delay their outbound emails and Slack messages, so they deliver during working hours. If you prefer, encourage people to include a simple notice at the bottom of emails to discourage after-hours responses. Here’s an example message for the bottom of an email:
“Please don’t reply to this email immediately if you receive it outside your working day.”
4. Encourage teamwork.
Projects don’t seem so lonely or overwhelming when there’s shared accountability. When possible, bring teams together for collaboration and support. But make sure roles are well-defined and ownership is clear so you don’t create stressful ambiguity.
5. Schedule regular check-ins.
Managers can learn how teammates feel during regular meetings with team members. Encourage managers to ask their direct reports about their current workloads, their upcoming deadlines and if they need extra support.
6. Promote employee wellbeing.
Organizations need to overtly promote employee wellbeing for people to feel comfortable prioritizing themselves. Here are some ideas:
- Encourage employees to take regular breaks
- Discourage working when sick
- Help employees use all of their vacation time (If you have unlimited PTO, set a minimum number of days that you expect people to use during the year.)
- Offer yoga, meditation and mindfulness classes
- Promote healthy habits – like keeping hydrated and eating healthy snacks
7. Train your people managers on burnout awareness and prevention.
Train your managers to support their teams to help prevent burnout. Managers who set clear expectations for their team members can cultivate a healthy, motivated and focused team.
Prioritize your people. Recognize the impact.
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